I am an introvert. I know. People tell me all the time that that cannot be, as I am loud, and colourful, and sparkly, and love to laugh. But I also need my space. I need to physically remove myself from large groups of people, and after work, all I want to do is go home and lay in my bed, snuggling my kids and reading a book. I need that mental break.
I am a people pleaser. I go out of my way to say yes to everything. Go to dinner? Yes! Go to a movie? Yes! Go camping? Yes! Hang out? Yes! Babysit someone’s kids? Yes! I say yes soooo often that sometimes I double book myself. Sometimes I agree to things with people I don’t even really want to spend time with because saying no makes me feel like I am letting people down. So I say Yes!
Now, as an introvert, all these yesses get my anxiety up and out of control. I literally cannot say yes to everything, live my life and be all things to all people. It’s not doable. When I say Yes! I genuinely have every intention of following through, and am excited at the time at the prospect of whatever I have agreed to. But then life happens, and every so often, I will get a text asking to reschedule, and it feels like the balm to my soul. People cancelled and now I have time to curl up and do my stuff, without guilt.
Now this is the part that brings me shame – I am saying Yes! to everything so that I don’t let people down, but then I overwhelm myself and I end up flaking out on people. I give up because I cannot bring myself to go out, or I have not got room in my budget for the event that I thought would be fun, but forgot to budget for. This ends up being more disappointing than if I had said no in the first place.
I had a conversation with a friend at work today, and it really gave me pause. My friend is a confident, well spoken, smart, funny, awesome woman, and she told me that she absolutely hates it when someone “bails” on her. She says she feels disrespected; and suddenly, all these years of people being annoyed with me for being late or for rescheduling, or for cancelling all together took on a different light. I always thought that as I feel relief at cancelled plans, others did, too. But I realize that maybe that isn’t true. Maybe instead of giving them back time that they would have “wasted” with me, they are feeling that I do not respect them or their time, and that maybe the time with me would not feel like a waste. Maybe my siblings, friends, family, coworkers actually want to spend time with me.
In my attempt to please everyone, I am not pleasing anyone at all. And in cancelling, I am making my friends and family feel like they are not valued. They feel like I am not showing up for them, and there is seriously nothing in this world that would make me want to make the people I love feel that way. So, to that end – if you have ever felt disrespected by my flakiness, please, please know that it was not meant in that way, and that from now on, I will hold myself to a higher standard.
And to my friend who finally explained to me what everyone else has probably been feeling – thank you. Thank you so so so much.